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  • Writer's pictureBen Christie

Should I jump on Threads?

For people of a certain vintage, ‘Threads’ is a nightmarish vision of what the UK would be like after a nuclear strike. Broadcast by the BBC in 1984, it depicted the struggles of some survivors as they try to deal with the aftermath – picture people dying horribly after eating a dead, irradiated sheep. That, and Raymond Briggs’ ‘When The Wind Blows’, had a profound impact on a generation of teenagers and it is amazing the recognition you get when it is mentioned.


For a new generation though, Threads might be Mark Zuckerberg’s answer to Twitter.


We all know the issues Twitter has had of late. Since Elon Musk bought the platform in October 2022, it has hardly been out of the news – mass sackings of staff, new criteria for the blue tick. And now you need to sign in to view Tweets and there is a limit on the number of Tweets a normal person can see. This last move is seen by many as a way to push people towards paying for a subscription to get the blue tick. These changes, and the behaviours and Tweets of its owner, have caused some businesses to leave the platform in favour of newer social media channels - we have certainly been monitoring the platform to ensure it doesn’t negatively impact our clients.


What about Threads?

Elon Musk is already threatening legal action against the Meta platform for what he says is tantamount to stealing trade secrets. So, this would suggest they are very similar - and they are! The names change – a Tweet is a Thread – but it is essentially another micro-blogging site, although you can also post videos and photos.


Mark Zuckerberg has said Meta’s “vision for Threads is to create an open and friendly public space for conversation.” Certainly, ‘unfriendliness’ has been a major turn-off for many people on Twitter. Essentially, they have linked it to Instagram and are trying to take that platform’s positive ethos and apply it to a text site.


What are the downsides?

It’s early days and things will change but for the moment:


1) You need an Instagram account. This does mean you can import the list of accounts you follow, etc. directly from Instagram but, if you don’t have an account, you’ll need to get one.

2) If you want to delete your Threads account, you’ll also need to delete your Instagram account. You can temporarily deactivate your Threads account independently, but not delete it.

3) Data! This is a data-driven world and users of Threads will be giving away data about location, contacts, search history, browsing history, etc.

4) App-only – this makes it exclusively a mobile experience, which can make it difficult for companies to utilise.

5) No in-app messaging solution for Threads, unlike Twitter.


Positives?

1) No advertisements – although, if the Instagram model is anything to go by, that will change.

2) Free to download and join – Twitter is free but if you want features such as editing posts, you need to pay for blue tick.

3) More characters – on Twitter you can post 280 characters, on Threads it is 500.

4) Images – you can post 10 items on Threads but only four on Twitter.


In essence, the platforms are vey similar. Both are text-based, micro-blogging sites where you can post images and engagement is very similar, although the names for these features are different.


Should you join Threads?

According to Meta, 30 million people joined Threads on the first day. There is an advantage to being an early adopter – just look at the traction people like Stephen Fry and Ashton Kutcher got from being on Twitter at the start.


However, these are early days. Being on any social media platform requires an investment in time and money to ensure you are using it correctly and getting the most out of it. If you are already on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, there may be no point in joining Threads if potential customers aren’t on it.


There is also the problem that social media platforms disappear very quickly. For every Facebook, there are plenty of Clubhouses, Foursquares, etc. – just remember how excited people were by Myspace! If you’ve put a lot of effort into building a following for your SME on Threads, and then it disappears, that is wasted effort! Also, think of your competitors’ websites that still have a link to a long defunct social media platform on their homepage.


Our advice would be to wait until you can see if Threads is going to be a success. That way, you are not going to waste your time. However, if you are going to join the Threads revolution, make sure you go all in. Just dipping your toes into the Threads pond could well be a waste of your time.


As to whether Threads will be a success – only time will tell. At the moment it is certainly more friendly than Twitter but, then again, Twitter wasn’t what it became back in the days when celebrities just tweeted about their breakfasts. Also, Threads does have the might of Meta behind it, but that is no guarantee of success. Twitter is still the dominant micro-blogging site and, while Threads got 30 million users in one day, Twitter currently has 450 million (March 2023).


Mark Zuckerberg has already had to admit Threads lost 50% of active users almost immediately. Will is be another Clubhouse? At its peak, Clubhouse had 10 million in 2021, but I doubt many of you have ever even heard of it.


Only time will tell…


Image by Anna from Pixabay

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